Minister of Justice Koeut Rith has urged all relevant institutions to continue their cooperation to curb money laundering and the financing of terrorism so that Cambodia can be removed from the grey list of countries which are vulnerable to money laundering.

The call came as Koeut Rith attended the 5th meeting of the ad-hoc sub-commission tasked with implementing the action plan of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering on July 23. The minister chairs the commission.

The meeting was held to discuss the 10th round of reports in preparation for submitting them to the general assembly of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an intergovernmental body formed to combat money laundering. Once the reports are submitted – by the end of July – the assembly will consider removing Cambodia from the list. The 9th round of reports were generally well received, although the assembly felt there was room for improvement.

“I ask all of you to continue to cooperate and work hard to combat money laundering so that Cambodia can be removed from the grey list,” he said.

The meeting discussed the final draft of the report, and prepared for an in-person meeting with the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG).

The FATF put Cambodia on the grey list for a second time in 2019 and urged the Kingdom to do better to efficiently crack down on these financial crimes.

Since then, Cambodia has worked hard to implement the 14 action plans laid out by the FATF and has reported its progress every four months.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, opined that it would be excellent if Cambodia took action and eliminated these crimes, but noted that this kind of work required strong will and real determination to implement it.

“The international community is interested in Cambodia and wants to take the Kingdom off of the money laundering grey list. If Cambodia enforces the new laws and gets off the list, it will be great for the nation’s image,” he said.

He added that if Cambodia is late to take action, then the effect will likely be the opposite.

“While Cambodia is on the grey list, it affects investment and aid, because it suggests that financial improprieties may somehow be viewed as acceptable here,” he added.